Can you convert an RCA cable to speaker wire? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 29 Old 08-29-2010, 07:06 PM - Thread Starter
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On the back of my receiver Zone 2 section, it takes red/white cables that plug in. I apologize for my lingo as I'm a complete newbie. Anyways, it plugs in there, but to my surround sound I have to input speaker wire. Can I cut the plugs off one end of the cables to use as speaker wire, or how do I convert the ends?
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post #2 of 29 Old 08-29-2010, 10:36 PM
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DANGER WILL ROBINSON DANGER! RCA jacks generally mean a LOW LEVEL input/output. Speaker terminals are high-level. You DO NOT want to reamplify a high-level signal.

A low level output will not drive a speaker.


The folks that came up with these standards are often ignored by folks that dream up cheap HTIB, some of which may use RCA jacks for pretty much everything, but you REALLY do not want to mix a HTIB with a more capable receiver, AV or audio only...
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post #3 of 29 Old 08-30-2010, 02:18 AM
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Originally Posted by renov8r View Post

DANGER WILL ROBINSON DANGER!

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post #4 of 29 Old 08-30-2010, 06:49 AM
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It sounds like he's [trying] to go the other way around though, no? Like line-level output to speaker level input (or directly to the speakers)? In this case there isn't really any danger but you aren't really going to get any sound that way, lol.
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post #5 of 29 Old 08-30-2010, 06:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lefty78 View Post

On the back of my receiver Zone 2 section, it takes red/white cables that plug in. I apologize for my lingo as I'm a complete newbie. Anyways, it plugs in there, but to my surround sound I have to input speaker wire. Can I cut the plugs off one end of the cables to use as speaker wire, or how do I convert the ends?

Not a good idea .. speaker wire is cheap .. get some

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post #6 of 29 Old 08-30-2010, 08:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lefty78 View Post

On the back of my receiver Zone 2 section, it takes red/white cables that plug in. I apologize for my lingo as I'm a complete newbie. Anyways, it plugs in there, but to my surround sound I have to input speaker wire. Can I cut the plugs off one end of the cables to use as speaker wire, or how do I convert the ends?

I suggest you read your owner's manual. There is probably a drawing in there that shows the correct way to hook things up.
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post #7 of 29 Old 08-30-2010, 08:37 AM
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The best advice so far!

If you don't have a user's manual, provide the make/model number of the unit and perhaps we can find it online.
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post #8 of 29 Old 08-30-2010, 09:56 AM
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Taking a guess on your receiver...

http://www.pioneerelectronics.com/St...ctions0523.pdf

Pages 62 and 63 provide info about connection and operation for Zone 2.
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post #9 of 29 Old 08-30-2010, 11:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by renov8r View Post

DANGER WILL ROBINSON DANGER! RCA jacks generally mean a LOW LEVEL input/output. Speaker terminals are high-level. You DO NOT want to reamplify a high-level signal.

A low level output will not drive a speaker.


The folks that came up with these standards are often ignored by folks that dream up cheap HTIB, some of which may use RCA jacks for pretty much everything, but you REALLY do not want to mix a HTIB with a more capable receiver, AV or audio only...


Some Really old Receivers have RCA jacks as speaker outputs, in fact I have one sitting on a bookshelf right beside me, its 10 watts-per channel.

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post #10 of 29 Old 08-30-2010, 01:49 PM
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You're absolutley right. 20+ years ago, some inexpensive "systems" used RCA connectors for speaker outputs. But... older receivers didn't have "options" for multi-zone.
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post #11 of 29 Old 08-30-2010, 02:01 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lefty78 View Post

On the back of my receiver Zone 2 section, it takes red/white cables that plug in. I apologize for my lingo as I'm a complete newbie. Anyways, it plugs in there, but to my surround sound I have to input speaker wire. Can I cut the plugs off one end of the cables to use as speaker wire, or how do I convert the ends?

Yeah sure. What you require is called an "amplifier."
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post #12 of 29 Old 08-30-2010, 03:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisWiggles View Post

Yeah sure. What you require is called an "amplifier."

+1. You've got preamp outs, there, not speaker connections. Need an amp.

On a more basic front, I've always heard that it is a BAD THING to use shielded coax (as would be connected to a typical rca connector) as speaker cable. Can't for the life of me remember why, though.

Those oldies and recent inexpensive devics that use RCA speaker connections aren't using shielded coax as the wire. Neither, AFAIK, should anybody else.
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post #13 of 29 Old 08-30-2010, 09:44 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ratman View Post

Taking a guess on your receiver...

http://www.pioneerelectronics.com/St...ctions0523.pdf

Pages 62 and 63 provide info about connection and operation for Zone 2.

You sir are correct, this Pioneer Elite is my receiver.
Some of you say it has to be connected from Zone 2 to a amp. Why is this? Why can't I hook it up to speakers? What I want to use it for is my 2 outdoor speakers I have wired. I had it previously wired from an older receiver I had laying around but thought if I hook them to zone 2 I can get rid of that receiver in my entertainment center.
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post #14 of 29 Old 08-31-2010, 04:10 AM
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Read page 63 of your manual. If I read it correctly, you can use the surround back speaker outputs for zone 2 (assuming you are not currently using them for surround back speakers).
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post #15 of 29 Old 08-31-2010, 08:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ratman View Post

Read page 63 of your manual. If I read it correctly, you can use the surround back speaker outputs for zone 2 (assuming you are not currently using them for surround back speakers).

Looks pretty straight forward: Use the the surround back speakers or add an amp. Not rocket science.
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post #16 of 29 Old 08-31-2010, 11:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lefty78 View Post

You sir are correct, this Pioneer Elite is my receiver.
Some of you say it has to be connected from Zone 2 to a amp. Why is this? Why can't I hook it up to speakers? What I want to use it for is my 2 outdoor speakers I have wired. I had it previously wired from an older receiver I had laying around but thought if I hook them to zone 2 I can get rid of that receiver in my entertainment center.

Really the same reason you could not just connect the analog outputs of your DVD or BluRay player directly to the speakers. You have to connect to an amp because you need an amp to drive speakers. Preamps just won't do it. They are not designed to deliver enough power to make speakers play with any volume at all. So if the receiver does not have amplifier channels dedicated to the second zone, you need an amplifier.
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post #17 of 29 Old 08-31-2010, 11:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JHAz View Post

On a more basic front, I've always heard that it is a BAD THING to use shielded coax (as would be connected to a typical rca connector) as speaker cable. Can't for the life of me remember why, though.

In the order I perceive as potential audible problems (1 least, 3 highest):

1. Capacitance per foot tends to be higher for small coax cables than for speaker cables (~20 pF/ft vs. maybe 10 pF/ft, though there are many variables...) Result: reduced bandwidth, stability issues with some amps. This is probably not a huge deal.

2. Breakdown voltages tend to be lower for small coax cables than typical speaker cables (again many variables, but maybe 200 - 300 V vs. 600 V). Result: more limited power capacity and/or design margin. Could be more annoying if you have a high-power amp, but again not the biggest problem... For reference, 100 W into 8 ohms is 80 Vpp, 400 W is 160 Vpp.

3. Resistance tends to be much higher for small cables (in the several ohms to tens of ohms for a few feet; typical coax interconnects use 21 - 23 AWG or even lower for the center conductor, vs. the typical 16 - 12 AWG for speaker cables). Result: more loss, lower speaker output, much worse damping factor at the speaker. This one is ugly.

HTH - Don

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post #18 of 29 Old 08-31-2010, 02:10 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ratman View Post

Read page 63 of your manual. If I read it correctly, you can use the surround back speaker outputs for zone 2 (assuming you are not currently using them for surround back speakers).

Yes, I am currently use the surround back speakers for my surround sound rear speakers. I guess I'll have to wire it to another receiver or amp then to get what I want.
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post #19 of 29 Old 08-31-2010, 02:57 PM
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Yup.

Or... you could always experiment and try using an A/B speaker switch to swap between Zone 1 (back surround) to Zone 2.

If not... I guess the existing receiver will have to stay.
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post #20 of 29 Old 09-02-2010, 04:20 PM
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Don H you worry way too much.
a] Capacitance is not a major factor in speaker cables (unless you have a poorly designed amplifier or extremely long cables).
b] The co-ax cable breakdown voltage is higher than the plug and it's connections.
c] The series resistance is a lot less than the output impedance of some of Stereophile's favorite tube amplifiers.

Co-ax is just fine for speaker wires. But the bigger co-ax cables are very stiff.

Kevin
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post #21 of 29 Old 09-02-2010, 05:58 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Speedskater View Post

Co-ax is just fine for speaker wires.

It may be if you use the shield braid as conductor. It's about 14 - 16 ga. if you twist it at the ends.
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post #22 of 29 Old 09-02-2010, 06:11 PM
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What, me worry? I was answering the question "why not use coax" posed by an earlier poster. I cited what I recall are the primary factors. As I said, my only real concern would be the high series resistance, but you are free to use whatever you like without worry. From basic quarter-inch coax up to the nitrogen-filled low-loss hard-line cable we used in big honkin' 100 kW FM transmitters. The latter is admittedly a bit stiff... - Don

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post #23 of 29 Old 09-02-2010, 06:12 PM
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Well I hope that you use the shield as one conductor. But for this application any co-ax will work (quad-shield excepted). People have used large co-ax as speaker wire for decades.

Kevin
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post #24 of 29 Old 09-02-2010, 06:20 PM
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Missed the "large" part, sorry. I was thinking small stuff since that's what most folk put into RCA plugs. Large cables, e.g. RG-11/12 class, have 5 to 10 times the center conductor diameter, with corresponding drop in resistance, and would be a much better choice. IMO.

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post #25 of 29 Old 09-02-2010, 09:06 PM
 
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Originally Posted by DonH50 View Post

Large cables, e.g. RG-11/12 class, have 5 to 10 times the center conductor diameter, with corresponding drop in resistance, and would be a much better choice. IMO.

But why pay 2 times as much per foot when 12 ga. speaker wire can do the job just fine?
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post #26 of 29 Old 09-02-2010, 09:39 PM
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Since that's what I am using, you'll get no argument from me! You have to get to pretty large coax cables to match simple 12 AWG wire for speakers. And, no nitrogen required! - Don

"After silence, that which best expresses the inexpressible, is music" - Aldous Huxley
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post #27 of 29 Old 09-04-2010, 02:33 PM
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Why do so many people do so many expensive crazy things with speaker cables when 12AWG does the job just fine?
I don't think that we will ever know the answer.

Kevin
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post #28 of 29 Old 09-04-2010, 02:41 PM
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Getting back to using smaller co-ax as speaker cable. If I was running a live PA sound system and stage crew cut a speaker cable minutes before a performance. If an spare RG-6 cable (not quad-shield) was available, I would feel OK using the co-ax as a 200 or 300 Watt speaker cable.

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post #29 of 29 Old 09-05-2010, 04:58 PM
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Kevin, I think we are closer than you think... Honestly, I was just responding to the question from the earlier poster about why small coax is not suggested for speaker cables, not arguing whether it would/should be used for that purpose.

1. I am running standard 12 AWG speaker wire. I had it for many years before I knew about Monoprice, but it's essentially the same stuff. Nothing I have heard has convinced me to go larger or more exotic.

2. As I said earlier, RG-6 or similar should handle 400+ W, it's a just a bit lossy for long runs and the small inner conductor trashes the damping factor. Whether that matters to you or anyone else I cannot say. In DBT ages ago a group of us could easily pick out 24 gauge from 12 gauge speaker cables, and small coax has conductors about that size. It was within statistical error from 16 gauge to 12 gauge for about a 20' run.

3. If a stage crew (or whomever) cut a speaker line I would grab my spare, or solder (more likely wrap splice or wire-nut it if I had only minutes) it back together, but RG-whatever would certainly work fine for most runs and live sound. Not sure I would use it on the kW bass amps I used back then, but for the HF it'd be fine. I agree! It would not be my first choice, but it would work. For horn tweeters, it probably wouldn't even be noticed in a critical listening situation. On a big bass crate, the loss of amp control would make the bass a bit tubby. The audience would probably love it.

"After silence, that which best expresses the inexpressible, is music" - Aldous Huxley
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